Crescent Saxophones | Features
Goldplate is for many the most durable, as well as the most attractive and desirable, finish. Some argue that this finish is also the best in terms of sound; I don’t know about that. I only know it cannot possibly hurt to go with the same finish that vintage American saxophone manufacturers used on their finest saxophones. I like goldplate from an aesthetic standpoint, and from the standpoint of doing everything it is possible to do in the service of the best possible practical results.
Another advantage of plated finishes (silverplated Crescents are also available) is that risks of “lacquer leprosy” — a cosmetic concern with all lacquered finishes over the history of saxophone production — are circumvented. Spreading red patches caused by solder flux remaining trapped under lacquer are much less likely to become a cosmetic issue on plated finishes. Goldplate in particular has been renowned for flaking issues (most goldplated Mark VI saxophones one comes across will have very little goldplate remaining, for example), and this is addressed with a very, very fine lacquer seal; even in the event, however, of the goldplating flaking away eventually, a nickel-silver plating remains under the goldplating to protect the brass against exposed wear and corrosion.
In the US, goldplating service alone costs in excess of the entire Just Saxes goldplated tenor saxophone.
Much has been made of pivot screws in online discussions of the best saxophones coming from PROC, over the past few years. The first high quality saxophones to come from the PROC and make a really large splash in the marketplace, the early Bauhaus Walstein saxes included a pivot screw design that was basically the same, mechanically, as the pivot screws on vintage Buescher and Conn saxophones. While this has never been a major point of concern for vintage Buescher and Conn enthusiasts, the design did create a difference between those earlier BW pivot screws and the tapered variations found on most modern saxophones (this design has since been changed and updated with the new Bauhaus “Action Improved” 2010 model).
For the Crescent line, I have opted for a pivot screw design that is identical in its logic to Selmer’s design. In part this is because Selmer is rightly the industry standard, and in part it’s because I wanted a self-locking tapered pivot screw. While I did not find the older “peg” styled pivot point to any more logically a problem than on a Conn “Chu Berry” or early Buescher “400,” certainly it does not hurt to update them, and a tapered screw does potentially make for better tightening up when the time for an overhaul arrives.
One note: the first generation of sopranos, having a narrower keytube, also have a different pivot screw from the alto and tenor (a bit smaller) — it is a hybrid between the early Bauhaus and newer Cresent alto/tenor pivots. I am debating whether to replace them all with actual Selmer pivots (as pictured as “Selmer Series 3”), which the Crescent will readily accept. This substitution is available, as a custom option, at a modest charge (my actual parts cost plus 1 hr labor).
(pictured: Crescent Soprano)
A handy edition for high notes, including a few altissimo notes, I had the choice of having these horns made with or without a high-F# and high-G keys. I chose to include the F# on the alto an tenor because the only rational reason I have ever seen given — or experienced myself — as an argument against the high F# is that some vintage horns with a high F# key seem to have lesser altissimo response. The Crescent altos and tenors (much like the Bauhaus Walstein line) have exceptionally good altissimo response — I don’t think there is a saxophone being made today at any price that has better altissimo response, expecially on the sometimes challenging high G3, than the Crescent and Bauhaus Walstein (phosphor) lines.
The soprano is keyed to high G, making that extension into the highest soprano notes just a bit easier, with the same exceptional high note response found on the altos and tenors. The palm keys and high F# and high G speak significantly more easily than on sopranos costing four times as much and more.
The left-hand pinky table design of the B&S and Yanagisawa saxophones has always been my favorite, and I believe it is inherently the slickest, removing the awkward slide between low B and low C# that most players find to be a sticking spot. The see-saw linkage functions as, literally, a kind of slide for the pinky finger between the two keys, and the C# key’s see-saw connector actually swivels to angle upward toward the low B keytouch as the pinky slides from C# to B; similarly, it moves with the pinky to make the transition from B to C# smooth and connected. The hitch between low B and C# that is endemic to all other modern table designs is eliminated. I think this is the single best left hand pinky table design, and that is why I have made it standard on the pitchings where the factory has made it possible for me to do so (baritones do not have this design addition, and instead have the conventional modern LH pinky table design).
(pictured: Crescent Alto, Low C)
For alto and tenor, the low C and low B keys feature doubled key arms. The second keyarm prevents large keycups from twisting torsionally, by flexing at the key rib, with the end result being a surer, firmer feel; C’s flexion in all directions is eliminated, and the mushy feel of the low Bb’s closing (because the low Bb must close the B key as well) is greatly firmed up. They also protect the cups against knocks and bumps apt to upset the seating of a conventional, single key arm thanks to the larger leverages of these larger-cupped keys. The second key arm provides a stability you can actually feel, especially when you close a doubled key arm with shorter key tubes, such as the low C.
Plastic keytouches are fine, functionally, but where real, organic materials are available, I much prefer to use those. They have a slightly finer feel, and a more familiar (as with classic saxophones) weight to them. All of the sopranos have real mother-of-pearl keytouches, and I am considering ordering some of the altos and tenors with black abalone touches, if there seems to be a demand for that option.
For years, I have been offering brass thumbrests for the left hand thumb rest as a customization option for vintage saxes. I prefer a brass thumbrest myself, for the left thumb, and a brass thumbhook for the right hand, so I have made these standard on the Just Saxes Crescents. A brass thumbrest for the left hand feels better, for many, and it is very sturdy and won’t crack; similarly, a brass right hand thumbhook won’t break in the middle of playing the horn (a decided advantage).
Improvements in materials used, and continuations of long-time saxophone traditions, are areas marking the improvement of saxophones from both Taiwan and PROC over the past few years. Rather than the less lively, lower-grade wire springs that many factories employed in the early 2000’s, the Crescent includes traditional blued-needle springs for a lively action.
Linkage adjustments (Crescent soprano) and key foot adjustments that regulate keyheights (Crescent alto and tenor) — once the calling card of some of the more exotic and vaunted vintage saxophones, such as SML — are now standard on many of the better quality “Asian horns.” I have included them in the features of the Crescent. These screw adjusters may be used to regulate keyheights with just the turn of a screw. More, although this feature has been known on some saxophones to be effectively useless, because the design does not enable the screw to actually be used, this is not the case on the Just Saxes Crescents. The Crescents are designed, adjusted and quality controlled (by myself, onsite in New Orleans) to ensure proper function and convenience.
Yanagisawa for Soprano & Alto
While the original goldplated neck has its own unique character — a professional line quality, with an unusually flexible pitch center for a modern production saxophone with modern intonational accuracy — unlike many saxophones being made in Taiwan and PROC, the Crescent alto and soprano are compatible with Yanagisawa necks, and with any aftermarket neck made for Yanagisawa. With a Yanagisawa neck, a Crescent — including in terms of evenness of scale and in terms of exact intonational characteristics — plays virtually identically to a Yanagisawa.
Just Saxes “Custom” & P. Mauriat for Tenor
The Crescent tenor is compatible with P. Mauriat necks, in addition to the Just Saxes “Crescent” necks, with excellent results.
Silverplated Crescent necks are also available, adding an option with more brightness and edge than the goldplated (silverplated necks may also be substituted for original necks).
Silverplated Crescent necks, Yanagisawa 901 and 991 necks, and P. Mauriat necks are all available with significant “with-purchase” discounts when purchasing a Crescent saxophone.
Retail (non-discounted) prices for necks are $165 for Crescent necks, $229 for Yanagisawa soprano necks, $275 for Yanagisawa alto necks, $269 for Just Saxes Crescent “Custom” necks, and $389 for P. Mauriat “Super VI” tenor necks. For “with-purchase” discount pricing, please email for more info.
The finest saxophone ever made, in poor repair, will not be able to reveal its true nature to a player or buyer. The comfort one feels, and the freedom one feels, when a horn feels just right relies crucially, and one could very easily (and accurately) argue almost completely, on its state of adjustment and repair. While a saxophone with great acoustical engineering may reveal its basic voice without everything being right, responsiveness, evenness, intonation and tonal character are all dependent on proper adjustment and repair for their excellence or lack thereof. The factory does a GREAT job of seating pads, and overall set-up — I have sampled from several PROC factories, and the one making the Crescent is by far the best. However, there are still a number of final touches, some more profound, some more subtle, that contribute to the final playing qualities of the saxophone. Every Just Saxes Crescent is carefully played and attentively regulated before it is allowed to go out into the world. The stateside servicing each saxophone receives goes well beyond “deleaking” and venting adjustment to include corrections at the level of bore tweaks and corrections that I do not share with my factory, and that I doubt very much any one else purchasing from my factory makes, or would know how to make.*